"The most valuable writing habit I have is not to answer questions about my writing habits."-Christopher Morley
What type of person are you? Are you a person that loves to make plans, keeps an agenda and religiously enters every appointment? Perhaps you keep a journal as well and record your private thoughts. Or maybe you prefer not to waste time with planning and prefer spontaneity over rigid self regulations. Maybe, throw caution to the wind… go where the wind blows and any other cliché about drifting your own way. What I like to know is if your muse is like you are? If you’re a planner, does your muse work well with outlines? If you like to take one day at time, does your muse prefer to react based on the characters’ actions?
I wonder if writer’s block is caused by an author’s personality not being in sync with her muse. For example, a person who plans most things, having to allow the characters to guide them through a story map, would that lead to writer’s block? Just think about the intrinsic chaos going on inside the author’s brain. Whew! Messy, messy.
As for me, I’ve tried both methods, and while planning usually leads to a completed first draft, since it’s in the editing where the magic really happens, I’ve decided to let the characters guide me for my latest attempt. The last time I did that, things got messy and the vampire, Countess Lorraina Sandoval fought the main character for attention. Her persona was too strong which means, perhaps I focused on the wrong character. While I’m currently working on a demon novel, the Countess comes alive, in my thoughts, at night. Unfortunately for her, I’ll have to tune her out since my vacation is officially over, leaving less time for my passion—writing.
I guess what I love most about writing is that it all comes down to choices. Next time you write a story, experiment a little. Put the characters in stressful situations and let them make the choices. What? Give up control of my own story? Well, truth be told, the stories aren’t really ours. They are gifts sent through our receptive capabilities so readers may be entertained. Naturally, we are our first reader and I love having fun. Does this mean if I structure the plot, my characters won’t come alive? Not necessarily but we need to be aware of believable character reactions to any given situation. Just like not all children and people behave the same way when facing similar encounters, characters behave differently as well. The best characters tend to act outside the box. Create one of those and you’ll be glad you are a writer.